PR company Bell Pottinger has announced the resignation of its chairman and founder Lord Bell.
Timothy Bell, who was Margaret Thatcher's PR guru, has decided to resign with effect from today, the company said.
Bell, who was not quoted in the Bell Pottinger statement, is not retiring and is planning to set up a new strategic consultancy, Sans Frontieres, next year.
Bell Pottinger said he "would like to step back from the day-to-day running of the business, but not to retire and from next year he will continue to provide his personal advice to clients through a new business, which he will be forming".
Non-executive director Mark Smith, who has been involved in the company since it was founded, is to become chairman with immediate effect.
Chief executive James Henderson said in a statement:
Tim has been the founder and driver of this business since he started it in 1987. We are grateful for all he has achieved for both the PR industry globally and in building Bell Pottinger into a household name.
He does not intend to retire totally and next year will be setting up a strategic consultancy to be named Sans Frontieres. He will always be the founder of this business and we will find ways of mutually working together with him in his new business where there are clients that need a combined expertise.
Bell landed himself in hot water with the City a couple of years ago when, in an interview, he labelled bankers "complete criminals". He later apologised in an email to staff, saying: "I am supposed to know how to deal with journalists, friendly or hostile."
Bell’s more controversial work down the years has included jobs relating to the Saudi Arabian government and the Chilean government of Augusto Pinochet.
PR industry commentator Alex Singleton said:
Tim Bell helped transform PR from being a minority interest for marketing departments into something chief executives regard as mission critical. His frank views on the PR industry have been a refreshing counterbalance to utopian views of PR promoted by many textbooks and he has been rightly critical of squandering cash on ineffective Twitter campaigns. Thank goodness he isn't retiring from the industry.